Somalia | FAO launches radio training programmes to adapt to COVID-19 restraints

Somalia | FAO launches radio training programmes to adapt to COVID-19 restraints


UN Agency to air more than 30 episodes on good agricultural practices, livestock, nutrition and fishery

In light of the current threat to public health posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to prevent the spread of the virus, FAO has launched today a new radio distance learning and extension service that complements its cash and livelihood support, for the most vulnerable farmers, pastoralists and fisher folks in Somalia.

This new initiative is part of FAO’s e-Platform for Mobile Money and Livelihood Assistance in Somalia. “We couldn’t wait for the situation to improve in order to provide this training to the most vulnerable people we serve. Training is an integral part of FAO’s humanitarian assistance in Somalia, which should not only aim to push vulnerable people out of hunger, but also to get them immediately back into production,” said Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO Representative in Somalia.

Urgent need

“In these times of ‘triple crisis’ for Somalia, accurate and reliable information can be life-saving. The long-distance radio training programmes will help the targeted communities enhance productivity, thus having an immediate positive effect on food security, while mitigating the spread of the coronavirus,” said Ezana Kassa, Coordinator of the FAO Emergency Programme in Somalia.

“This initiative also comes as an anticipatory measure in case the COVID-19 situation gets worse again and new restrictions and limitations to movement and gathering are put in place throughout a second wave. In that case, we are ready to scale it up in order to fully replace the on-site training by distance learning within a very short timeframe,” added Ezana Kassa.

Radio programmes are launched in the midst of floods, the desert locust upsurge and COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when 2.2 million people are expected to experience severe hunger in Somalia through September. “This number could increase as the dry season progresses,” warns the latest Food Security Outlook update issued by Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and FEWSNET.

Leaving no one behind

This first long-distance radio training programme involves producing and broadcasting stations across Somalia. Around 30 training episodes will be broadcast all over the country on key topics such as good agricultural practices, livestock, nutrition and fishery, thanks to the generous support of USAID, Sweden and Germany.

“In Somalia, and compared to TV and Internet, radio is the most far-reaching channel of communication to reach out the most remote and rural areas: 98% of the population receive a clear FM signal,” said Francesco Diasio, international Communication for Development expert, involved in the design and implementation of the programme.

FAO’s radio training programmes will be aired during prime time in local dialects “to enhance the educational role of radio, focusing on livelihood and development issues, and most importantly to ensure that we leave no one behind,” said, Emily D’Addonizio, coordinator of this initiative. 

Radio programmes are part of the capacity development strategy of the FAO programme in Somalia. Enabling access to relevant information for rural people, as well as fostering social dialogue lie at the core of agricultural and rural development initiatives. 

“Smallholder and vulnerable rural households need to acquire new information every day, so to face social, economic and environmental challenges. This core function of our programme becomes even more relevant nowadays, hence our efforts to strengthen it,” says Etienne Peterschmitt.

“The main advantage of radio programmes is that the uneducated rural population in those communities will be able to take part in these programmes, which are indeed designed to encourage participation through different communication tools, and in particular through “phone in” to the radio stations and asking direct questions to our experts. It  will serve as a platform for FAO to listen to the farmers, pastoralists and fisher folks. This active mutual listening will help us improve our programme to better serve their needs,” said Ezana Kassa.

This new batch of radio programmes follows the collaboration of FAO with Radio Ergo in a  9-episode series to sensitize communities affected by desert locust.